Most Apple Stores to Require Masks Again for Shoppers, Staff

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Apple Inc. plans to restore a mask requirement at most of its U.S. retail stores on Thursday for both customers and staff, even those who are vaccinated, in response to a resurgence in Covid cases.

The company informed retail staff of the move Wednesday in a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. Apple already started requiring masks for employees at select stores earlier this month, and it pushed back a return-to-office deadline for corporate employees. It also began requiring masks for customers in a few counties based on local guidelines.

Now, Apple will again require masks for shoppers and employees at more than half of its about 270 U.S. stores. The decision was spurred by rising cases, new local mandates and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

“After carefully reviewing the latest CDC recommendations, and analyzing the health and safety data for your local area, we are updating our guidance on face masks for your store,” Apple told staff. “Starting July 29, face masks will be required in store for customers and team members -- even if they’re vaccinated.” The company added it is making the change “out of an abundance of caution.”

It also urged retail staff to get vaccinated, but is not requiring it at this time. “Apple encourages everyone who is eligible to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, to take it,” the company wrote to retail employees. “Please talk to your doctor and decide what’s right for you.”

Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Wednesday told corporate staff that they must be vaccinated to return to the office. Apple has also informed corporate staff that they must wear masks inside of Apple office buildings, but not when they’re outside. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

In June, before cases began to climb again, the Cupertino, California-based company dropped its mask mandate at its U.S. retail stores. Apple has also launched a new hybrid program for retail employees to let some staff work at either their retail location or from home -- where they can handle online sales -- depending on consumer demand.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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